You finally got your baby’s sleep routine on lock and now you are trying to figure out why they are so cranky and drooling all of the time. Well, it could most likely be that they are teething. Teething can be an ordeal for both babies and parents.
All babies are different. So are their teething symptoms. Some will give no signs a new tooth is about to poke through. Others may show one or more symptoms.
Although timing varies widely, babies often begin teething by about age 6 months. The two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors) are usually the first to appear, followed by the two top front teeth (upper central incisors).
Classic signs and symptoms of teething include:
An emerging tooth
Grabbing at the face and ears
Excessive biting, chewing and sucking
Many parents suspect that teething causes fever and diarrhea, but researchers say these symptoms aren't indications of teething. If your baby has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or diarrhea, talk to the doctor.
What's the best way to soothe sore gums?
If your teething baby seems uncomfortable, consider these simple tips:
Wet cloth. Freeze a clean, wet cloth or rag, then give it to your baby to chew on. It helps decrease inflammation along the gums. You can also massage the gums with the rag.
Cold food. Serve cold foods such as applesauce, yogurt, and refrigerated or frozen fruit (for babies who eat solid foods).
Teething biscuits. You can offer teething biscuits starting at 8 to 12 months of age. But pay attention to gum hygiene. To protect against cavities, wipe the gum area and teeth with a clean cloth. As they get more teeth, introduce a toothbrush. Get that routine set in place. You don’t even need toothpaste. Just brushing the plaque off can help prevent cavities later on.
Teething rings and toys. They’re easy for tiny fists to grasp and provide the pressure needed to soothe sore gums. Avoid freezing the ones with gel because they may break more easily when your child gnaws on them. Instead, use the refrigerator to keep them cold.
What treatments should I avoid?
To keep your baby safe, avoid using:
Topical medications containing lidocaine or benzocaine. No studies have proven the long-term benefit of these products. Meanwhile, your baby is swallowing it and getting high levels of the medication into the bloodstream.
Herbal products. There haven’t been enough studies about the effectiveness of herbal remedies for teething. Herbs are medications. They are still metabolized by your liver and kidneys. We don’t know the long-term side effects, so there is a risk.
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you’re going to give your fussy child one of these medications talk to your pediatrician before doing so. Also check the Food and Drug Administration’s website for information about the safety of children’s medications.
Do I need to call the doctor?
Teething can usually be handled at home. Contact the doctor if your baby seems particularly uncomfortable or if teething seems to be interfering with his or her eating or drinking.
How do I care for my baby's new teeth?
Run a soft, clean cloth over your baby's gums twice a day — after the morning feeding and before bed. The cleansing can keep food debris and bacteria from building up in your baby's mouth.
When your baby's first teeth appear, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to clean his or her teeth twice a day. Until your child learns to spit — at about age 3 — use a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than the size of a grain of rice. Then switch to a pea-sized dollop as your child approaches 2 to 3 years of age.
It's also time to think about regular dental checkups. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend scheduling a child's first dental visit at or near his or her first birthday.
Remember, regular childhood dental care helps set the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.